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Whale Shark Trip Operator Recommendation?


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#1 joerunr

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 09:43 PM

There will be four or more of us from Isla Mujeres late July. We will be staying there for our son's 30th birthday.
Can you suggest a good operator for a trip to see the Whale Sharks?
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#2 dawnb

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 07:39 AM

There are many. I don't remember the one we took, but if you Google it, you can compare prices and tours.

Definitely an adventure of a lifetime, not to be missed!
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#3 Lizard

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 05:00 PM

We did a whale shark tour last August from Isla Mujeres. We used Searious (sic) Diving (www.islawhalesharks.com). We saw tons of sharks. It really was a successful "bucket list" item. We thought Ramon Guerrero Garcia, who runs this operation, did a great job. The operation seemed first-rate (though we really don't have another experience to use for comparison). As you will be able to tell from their web site, they are very environmentally aware, and serious about protecting the sharks.

Go, and enjoy. Isla Mujeres has a completely different vibe than Coz, but it's a fun place to spend a few days. And the whale shark excursion is simply something you'll never forget.
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#4 DJDiverDan

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 07:15 PM

I'm going to be in Cozumel in late July - 21st through 28 - and I would absolutely love to schedule a Whale Shark Watching trip - several questions; First, how easy is it to get from Cozumel to Isla Mujeres, if that is where I need to go to get on one of these? Or are there any operators that will pick me up from Cozumel? How much time will it take? If I catch the earliest Ferry to Playa Del Carmen, where do I need to go to catch a ferry to Isla Mujeres? Bottom line, can I do this in a day trip from Coz? Also, I understand that they do Not allow you to touch the Whale Sharks, but do they allow you to get in the water & snorkel? Can I get some underwater video to take home?
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#5 Agnes62

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 08:41 PM

Here's one tour: http://cozumel-tours...sharks-tour.htm
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#6 DJDiverDan

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 06:31 AM

Thanks so much - it looks like I can catch the 6:00 a.m Ferry to Playa Del Carmen, meet the Tour right there at Senor Frogs in Playa, and I will get to snorkel with the Whale Sharks. Sounds like a plan! I've been diving in Cozumel for over 20 years now, and I've never done this. I'm excited! If I get a good video (I just got a new small underwater digital camera), maybe I'll post it. Stay tuned.
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#7 Agnes62

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 07:17 AM

I think you need to catch the 5 am ferry.
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#8 cvchief

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 07:53 AM

Doesn't someone run a puddle jumper tour out of Coz? Like catch a small plane at the Coz Airport straight there and back? It was more expensive, but cut alot of the travel time out.
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#9 DJDiverDan

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 08:13 AM

According to the most current Ferry Schedule I could find, 6:00 a.m. is the earliest. And, on the Cozumel Tours website, the only Whale Shark Tour they are currently operating is the "Express Whale Shark Tour", which leaves from the Playa Del Carmen Ferry Pier at 7:00 a.m. ( I assume they drive you up to Peurto Juarez, north of Cancun, to catch the boat out to the Whale Shark area). You get back to PDC by about 4:00 p.m. It's $175 (plus round trip Ferry from Coz to PDC), but this would be well worth it to me for what seems like a once in a lifetime experience.
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#10 dawnb

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 08:13 AM

We went with Adrian (from Especias) last year, took a puddle jumper from the airport and were in Isla Mujeres in less than an hour. We got some wonderful video. It wasn't too expensive to fly there, as I recall.

Incredible experience!
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#11 joerunr

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 08:29 PM

Thanks for your help and advice to all. I was hoping to get more in the way of a recommendation for an operator on Isla Mujeres. If anyone else can help, I would much appreciate it.

We now have ten for our whale shark trip. Still looking for an operator. I have been away on a trip and just checked here. We are leaving for Isla Mujeres next week.

Best,
Joe and Kathy
Pueblo, CO.
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#12 DJDiverDan

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 07:26 PM

Well, I promised a report, and here it is. I just got back from the Whale Shark Adventure (literally - I left my hotel at 5:15 a.m. this morning to catch the 6:00 a.m. Ferry to Playa Del Carmen, and just returned to my Hotel, dragging like a cat that had been caught in a tornado, about 7:05 p.m.). It was a VERY long and tiring day, and NOT for the faint of heart. First, I really enjoyed the time I spent in the water with the Whale Sharks - they are truly magnificent, and I was shocked by how many were out there. Once our boat got to the area (and there were like 28 boats all out in the same area), it was very rare that there weren't at least two or three swimming in the vicinity of the boat. There must have been hundreds all feeding together. Maybe it's just me, but it is not that easy to just swim up to them or get a good photo. They keep moving & you have to kick hard and long to try to get near them & keep up - and while they do not seem at all afraid of humans, they do move to avoid contact, turning away, diving under the boat, or just gliding past you. The visibility is not nearly what you might expect from snorkeling in Cozument - you are out in the open ocean, land completely out of sight, & the water is cloudy with lots of little stuff - of course, that is precisely why the Whale Sharks are there, to feed on all those clouds of little stuff. Snokeling with them is quite an aerobic workout; I'm old, fat & out of shape; I propably won't try it again unless I go on a diet & train hard for several months first. And I DEFINITELY would not do it from Cozumel again. The travel grind is too much. Up at 5:00 a.m. to catch the 6:00 a.m. ferry; You walk off the ferry, and you are met by a transportation company in one of those 8-passenger vans; I was not the first on, that honor fell to 2 people who got picked up in Tulum (probably about the time I was getting on the Ferry). Three more stops for 5 more passengers, then a shuttle ride of about 1:20 to Gran Puerto, north of Cancun. Then wait for about 45 minutes for the whole contingennt to arrive (we had two boats, 10-11 per boat), then a boat ride of about 1:15 to the Whale Shark Grounds, and that boat ride was often less than gentle. First it was the Guide and only two people at a time in the water - the boat would try to outflank an approaching Whale Shark so that it was swimming up alongside the boat, then the Guide & Captain both yelled "jump, jump, jump!" Into the water, kick as hard as you could as long as you could to try to stay close, then back to the boat for the next group. Everyone got at least three opportunities to get in with the Whale Sharks, though not all of us took them; I was so winded & sore from the first two that I sat out my third turn. Then a long trip back to Isla Mujeres, where we anchored by a reef that was pretty torn up, everyone got to snorkel in calmer waters for a while and the crew made Ceviche (which maybe tasted better than it was, because I missed Breakfast and that was my first meal). Continue the long boat trip back to Gran Puerto - my boat got back a little after 2:00 p.m, but then I had to wait about 45 minutes for the second boad to return and everyone on my shuttle to be rounded up. A long shuttle ride back to Playa Del Carmen got me in a little after 4:00 p.m. The shuttle driver just dumped me off in a place I did not recognize; I said "how do I get to the Ferry Pier?" and his reply was "Just head that way, you'll find it." Hope he's not wondering why I didn't tip him a single Peso. When I did get to the Ferry Pier, I had to wait til the 6:00 p.m. Ferry back to Coz. I was spent.

If you are going to do this, and I do think it is worthwhile, I would NOT recommend doing it from Cozumel. Make Plans to spend a couple nights on Isla Mujeres or Isla Holbox. AND don't go expecting that it's going to be a simple snorkel float like you are used to in Chankanaab Lagoon - be prepared for a real workout.
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#13 nauticab

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 08:32 PM

good post dan. and very true... it aint easy swimming with these magnificent beasts but well worth it for sure. prob would be much easier to go to isla mid day (even after diving here, catch the 2 or 4pm ferry) get to isla 3 hours later, get a hotel, relax, eat a good dinner and get up at 7ish, eat breakfast and get on a boat. then come back to coz after the ride using the ferry, bus and ferry.
glad you had fun and thanks for the review for those who have not done it.
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#14 dawnb

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 08:52 PM

Seriously, take the puddle jumper from Coz to Isla. It's not expensive, and saves a helluva lot of time and energy!

Glad you had a good time, Dan! :)
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#15 drjoe

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 09:22 AM

dawnb
any information on who to meet & where to book a whale shark trip from Cozumel using a puddle jumper would be great. I love the idea but thought it might be cost prohibitive. Do we just show up at Especias & talk to Adrian ? Approx how much per person does it cost ? It is clearly worth more than the ferry to a shuttle bus but how much more it does cost may be an issue for us
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#16 dawnb

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 12:48 PM

When 5 of us went to Holbox via puddle jumper 3 years ago, a friend booked it. When we went with Adrian to Isla last year, he made a phone call, and his "people" booked it, again for 5 people. As I recall, it was about $325 +/- per person. You fly out of the little airport next to the big one early in the morning. Depending on where you fly, it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to land. You are met by a golf cart on Isla, which takes you to the boat. They take you out to where the big guys are, and all boats are in contact by radio, so when a bunch of sharks are found, lots of other boats join in and work to herd the sharks.

Included is a light ceviche lunch and beer and water on the boat. We also were dropped off to snorkel over some nice coral heads. We then rented a golf cart and toured Isla, including a drive-through convenience store where we bought cold beer and snacks. You need a driver's license to rent a cart, anyone can drive. We got back on the plane around 3:30, and went to dinner later.

I am sorry, I can't recall either tour's name. Our friend booked through an online site, and Adrian had "people". Check online for Isla Mujueres Whale Shark Tours Cozumel, or stop in at Especia's. You might try calling the little airport.

Either place, make sure you bring bug spray. Both times, it was well worth the price. You do have to be a good strong swimmer to keep up.

Adrian posted the video he took with my camera on You Tube. Awesome stuff, the shark opened his huge mouth to feed. DH had to swim like a fiend to keep up.
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#17 Guest_pecosgirl_*

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 12:52 PM

That sounds lovely but I do think that's expensive and cost prohibitive as opposed to taking a ferry and then bus and having a hotel in PDC or even IM for the night. No?
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#18 dawnb

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 01:02 PM

At our age, ease, efficiency and simplicity trump cost! Think about Disneyland or other theme parks and attractions in the states and how expensive they are, not counting airfare. We also like to spend as much time as we can on Coz.

Well worth the price for the lifetime memories!

BTW, it costs my mom $400 to fly 45 minutes for a RT to a nearby big city in the US. No food, no beer, and certainly no Whale Sharks!
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#19 sailsgal

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 01:17 PM

We took a small plane from Cancun to Holbox two years ago...20 min flight...perfect!
Had a great time on the boat and swam with the whale sharks and giant mantas.
Then a nice late lunch in Holbox, best lobster pizza I ever ate, then back on the plane and straight to Cozumel which took about 45 minutes...Because we knew the pilot and the family the costs were less but well worth it.
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#20 DJDiverDan

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 04:39 PM

Just to compare costs - I paid $175.00 for the tour (plus a $20 tip for Guide & Captain on Whale Shark Boat; no tip for Transportation Driver, though I'm sure one was expected) plus about $28 round trip on Ferry from Coz to PDC. Say $230 for 1 person, Tour, Ferry & Tips, for a tour that took 12-13 hours, most of which was spent on the Ferry, on the Shuttle Van, or just waiting, and a 2+ hour round trip bumpy boat ride fron Gran Puerto to the Whale Shark Watching area (I'm pretty certain that boat ride is much shorter if you take off from Holbox). $325 per person for the Flying tour sounds reasonable, for the savings in time and hassle, for those who can afford it.
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